Somewhere near the middle of the introduction of Writing
Realistic Dialogue and Flash Fiction, Harvey
Stanbrough comments that "
flash fiction is
an enjoyable exercise that I wanted to take
this opportunity to introduce it to as many writers as
possible. In purchasing this book on dialogue, you're
getting a two-for-one deal--well, at least one-and-a-half
for one" (p. 13).
I completely disagree.
Stanbrough's engaging and insightful offering for writers
of all fiction subgenres--and any writer who uses
dialogue-- is more like eight books in one.
In a low-key and conversational manner, Stanbrough
begins by presenting a short introduction to the elements
of dialogue and dialogue vs. narrative passages. Unlike
your high school English class, there are no dry dialogue
lessons here--through short examples and straightforward
explanations, you'll discover not only how to make your
dialogue more effective, but how to use the spoken word
to create and enhance character, setting, mood, theme,
and plot. You'll learn valuable keys to combining
dialogue, punctuation and sentence structure to pace and
intensify crucial story elements to engage the reader's
interest--and ultimately their emotional involvement in
Don't let the simplistic appearance of the table of
contents fool you into believing this book is basic.
Packed with hints, lessons and important advice on how to
use dialogue to your advantage in a variety of
situations, every page had me thinking about how to
tighten my current fiction work-in-progress by tweaking
the dialogue and punctuation to accomplish more.
The final chapter on flash fiction is delivered just
as promised. He gives a working definition of the genre
then moves into a brief discussion of the elements with
several examples and suggestions for using flash fiction
as a tool to improve your writing skills. Being forced to
weave setting, conflict, character, resolution and
suggestion successfully in 99 words or less is bound to
make any writer better--or possibly insane. But with
Stanbrough's guidance and exercises, it's worth a try.
You may even discover, like me, that flash fiction is
If you're considering adding a book on dialogue to
your writing library, consider Writing Realistic
Dialogue and Flash Fiction. Whether you're a
published author or still working your way to print,
you'll definitely be treated to more than you bargained
Read Beth's review of the
The Revised and Expanded
Punctuation for Writers: A Thorough Primer for Writers of
Fiction and Essays
author: Beth Morrow is a freelance
writer who is learning to create in the middle of things.
In addition to both national and regional writing
credits, she authors a daily blog of writing resources at
compiles a monthly column on small press and independent
publishers and is working on her first nonfiction book on
writer's retreats. She can be contacted through her